A Few Thoughts about the Election

(1) The Republicans’ other demographic problem: Sure, the GOP needs to reach out to the growing Hispanic population. But the bigger problem is that single women vote overwhelmingly Democratic, and for the first time in American history there are more single women than married women. Single women are much more economically vulnerable than are married women, and want the government to be there to insure them against hard times. This is especially true of single women with kids–and the American divorce rate is still the highest in the world, and over 40% of American children born last year were born to single mothers. This isn’t good for the women, their children, or American society, and it’s not good for the Republicans. So how about spending (A LOT) less time worrying about gays getting married, and more time worried about women (and men) who aren’t? Reducing the number of what used to be called “broken homes” is a culture war worth fighting; gay marriage is not.

(2) The election bears a remarkable resemblance to 2004–an incumbent who is wildly unpopular among partisans of the other side and facing a sluggish economy wins a narrow victory by harnessing the powers of incumbency, defining his opponent as an out-of-touch elitist through negative ads, and turning out his base in numbers many pundits thought impossible.

(3) There’s been relatively little comment about how elderly voters, once a Democratic stronghold, have become such a strong Republican constituency. If Obama is serious about lowering the deficit–and I hope he is–something will need to be done about Medicare and Social Security costs. Oddly enough, he might be in a better position to do that something than a Romney administration reliant on the over-65 vote.

(4) Kudos to Nate Silver, he seems to have made all the right calls, including the key and controversial call that the state polls were more accurate than the national polls. Rasmussen, in predicting a strongly Republican electorate, seems to have discredited himself. Similarly, some heads should roll at Gallup, which despite having an enormous sample size completely botched predicting the partisan makeup of the electorate.

(5) I’m pretty confident that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will retire before Obama’s term is up. I’m also pretty confident that unless they die or become totally incapacitated, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia aren’t resigning.

(6) Is this 1936? Obviously not.

(7) If Chief Justice Roberts was thinking he’d win kudos for upholding Obamacare, and then it would be gutted by a Romney Administration anyway, he was sorely mistaken.

(8) Monday morning quarterbacking is easy, but I always thought that Romney made a mistake in pitching his campaign almost entirely on dissatisfaction with the economy. Available political science models suggested that the fact that the economy was improving would be more important than the fact that it still wasn’t doing that well. Such models predicted a narrow Obama reelection. To win, then, Romney needed to win over a percent or two of voters with a broader vision. It may not have been possible, and maybe it would have backfired. But it was worth a shot. I also was skeptical that going on cruise control after the first debate was a wise strategy. On the other hand, Romney isn’t really a big picture kind of guy, and his likeability ratings were low enough that a more aggressive posture may not have worked. Mitt Romney may have run the best campaign Mitt Romney could run, given his temperament.

(9) I suspect this is the last time for a long time we are going to see a GOP ticket with two white non-Hispanic men.

(10) Early indications from a variety of sources suggest that Romney won about 30% of the Jewish vote, the most for a GOP candidate since 1988, and a decent showing considering that most Jews live in deep blue states–the New York metro area, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, and California–where their votes weren’t contested. (I also tend to think that exit polls and surveys slightly underestimate the GOP Jewish vote because the two groups most likely to vote Republican, the ultra-Orthodox and Russian immigrants, are also the least likely to respond to pollsters.)

(11) With a few exceptions, the Democrats’ campaign was remarkably free of appeals to anti-Mormon prejudice. Kudos for that.

(12) I’ve spent most of my adult life paying relatively little attention to elections, but I fell off the wagon a bit in ’08, and much more this time. I plan to go back to my old policy, as following elections closely is a huge waste of time. My excuse this year is that I’ve been so tired due to having a new baby in the house that I found it hard to do anything much more productive in my spare time than read election news.

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